OSCEOLA — If you’ve ever eaten a Lays potato chip or McDonald’s french fry, you’ve eaten food that has been processed by Vanmark Equipment.
“I don’t know that there’s many humans left who don’t fit somewhere into that definition. Even in China, we’re making potato chips and french fries,” said Tom Mathues with Vanmark Equipment during an award ceremony Friday at the South Central Iowa Area Partnership Regional International Trade Seminar at Clarke County Fairgrounds events center.
Vanmark Equipment of Creston received the annual Global Iowa Export Award.
The other three finalists for the award were SIMCO Drilling Equipment Company of Osceola, CHS Inc. — Oilseed Processing of Creston and Boyt Harness Company of Osceola.
Vanmark Equipment designs, produces and sells food-processing equipment and parts serving the snack food and food-processor market. Approximately 45 percent of Vanmark sales is in the international market place. Of the 35 countries where Vanmark does business, India has become the largest market for the company.
It also has substantial sales in Australia, Japan, China, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Norway, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“Very impressive,” said Wayne Pantini, Union County Development Association executive director.
Pantini said, last year, Vanmark achieved gross sales of more than $10 million, including 41 percent that were export sales. Vanmark has grown its export sales 50 percent throughout the past three years. Recently, the company acquired its largest equipment sales contract in the past 25 years.
“Needless to say, they will once again have an outstanding year in sales,” Pantini said.
Mathues said Vanmark has been fortunate with its business in Creston.
“We’ve had a couple of major customers that have provided the critical mass force to get the kind of growth that Wayne talked about.” he said.
According to Mathues, the company exports to more countries than it has employees, and it has room for growth.
“The businesses are good. The workforce is second to none, and I report to a parent company over in Ohio, and and I told him I’d put our 28 people in Creston up against his 117 any day,” Mathues said.